Glossary of Terms

Cheer Dance Terminology


  • Arabesque

    This pose is done standing on one leg, either flat, on half point, or on full point.

    The leg that is extended to the back (always straight) is usually at a 90-degree angle to the leg of the supporting foot (parallel to the floor), although an arabesque can also be higher or lower than 90 degrees.

  • Assemblé

    This item of ballet vocabulary does have some sense to an English speaker; you 'assemble' your feet (bring them together) while you are in the air.

    First, brush one foot to the front, side, or back, and then jump, bringing both feet together and landing in fifth position on both feet.

  • Attitude

    An attitude is not a particular way of doing something (as its name might suggest), but rather a static position that is similar to an arabesque.

    On one leg, the raised leg differs from the arabesque in that the knee is bent and that an attitude can be done to the side or the front, as
    well as the back, whereas an arabesque can only be done to the back.

  • B

  • Broken High V/ Broken Low V

    Same as High/Low V except elbows are bent

  • Broken T

    Same as T except elbows are bent.

  • C

  • Chasse

    Adopted from ballet, this step resembles a galloping motion, as one foot literally “chases” the other.

    This is often used in jazz dance terminology to describe a way to travel across the stage, or flow two moves together.

  • Clap

    Pom poms under chin, elbows close to body. Only pom poms move when clapping.

  • D

  • Drop

    Used in more modern jazz routines, a drop is when a dancer executes a controlled fall from an isolated position.

  • E

  • Extension

    This jazz dance term is also used in varying styles of dance, used to describe an arm or leg extended outward and held for a determined pause of movement.

  • F

  • Fan Kick

    The body stays in place while one leg starts inward and kicks all the way around to its original position.

    These are often used in kick lines and Broadway-style routines, such as Fosse influenced choreography.

  • Fouette

    Literally meaning "whipped".

    The term indicates either a turn with a quick change in the direction of the working leg as it passes in front of or behind the supporting leg, or a quick whipping around of the body from one direction to another.

  • G

  • General Ball Change

    A ball change is a change of weight distribution on the balls of the feet. This is a popular transitory step in many jazz dance routines.

  • H

  • Hips

    Pom poms on either hip, elbows pointing to either side. Strong wrists.

  • High Punch

    Extend right pom upward and left pom on hip. Right pom: thumbnail inward. Left pom: strong wrist.

  • High V

    Extend pom poms upward in a V position. Grip pom handle with thumbnails facing the ground.

  • I

  • Isolations

    One of the key skills for any jazz dancer is to be able to move parts of their body individually.

    For hands and other extremities, this is pretty easy, but to master jazz you need to be able to isolate the chest and hips as well, and this is almost always a part of any jazz dance.

  • J

  • Jazz Square

    This iconic move consists of stepping forward, then crossing the other foot over, stepping back with the first, and then bringing the feet side by side.

    It can be done to the left or right side, and usually is done with some extreme attitude in the upper body, exaggerating the motion.

  • L

  • Low V

    Extend pom poms downward in a V position. Grip pom handle with thumbnails facing the ground.

  • Low Touchdown

    Extend pom poms downward with arms parallel to each other. Grip pom handle with thumbnails facing inward.

  • P

  • Passé

    In this step, one foot passes the knee of the other leg, the standing leg.

    In point work, as the foot comes to the knee, the dancer often raises onto point and comes down again as the foot comes back to the floor.

  • Pirouette

    Literally means to "whirl" is a controlled turn on one leg, starting with one or both legs in plié and rising onto demi-pointe (usually for men) or pointe (usually for women).

    The non-supporting leg can be held in retiré position, or in attitude, arabesque level or second position.

    The pirouette may return to the starting position or finish inarabesque or attitude positions, or proceed otherwise.

    A pirouette is most often en dehors turning outwards toward the back leg, but can also be en dedans turning inwards toward the front leg. Although ballet pirouettes are performed with the hips and legs rotated outward ("turned out"), it is common to see them performed with an inward rotation ("parallel") in other genres of dance, such as jazz and modern.

    Turning technique includes spotting, in which a dancer executes a periodic, rapid rotation of the head that serves to fix the dancer's gaze on a single spot. Spotting is particularly important in traveling turns such as tours chaînés or piqués because it helps the dancer control the direction of travel while keeping balanced.

    Pirouettes can be executed with a single or multiple rotations.

  • Plié

    The French 'to bend' refers to the knees in this term.

    This step can be done in any position, and to three different depths: plié, demi-plié(halfway to the floor), and grand-plié (all the way down, with heels off the floor—except in second position).

  • Pom-pom

    Also spelled pom-pon, pompom or pompon.

    Is a loose, fluffy, decorative ball or tuft of fibrous material.

  • R

  • Right Diagonal/ Left Diagonal

    One pom in High V position with other pom in Low V position.

    Right Diagonal: right pom in air. Left Diagonal: left pom in air

  • Right L position/ Left L position

    One pom in Touchdown position with other pom in T position.

    Right L: right pom in air. Left L: left pom in air

  • T

  • Table Top

    Both pom poms in front of shoulders; elbows close to body. Grip pom poms with thumbnails facing inward.

  • T Position

    Extend pom poms to either side of body parallel to the ground/ Grip pom handle with thumbnails facing the ground.

  • Touchdown

    Extend pom poms upward with arms parallel to each other. Arms should be as close to head as possible, thumbnails facing inward.